The emergence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), potential for a highly pathogenic influenza pandemic, and sobering reality of the 2001 anthrax attacks emphasize the danger to human health posed by infectious organisms, both natural and man-made. An effective response to infectious threats requires individuals well versed in infectious disease biology and control, as well as biodefense preparedness. Such preparedness was demonstrated by Wadsworth Center's anthrax testing initiative in 2001, as well as its subsequent SARS and influenza programs. A training program for predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows in the laboratory sciences, with an epidemiology enrichment, is proposed to meet this need for scientists with expertise in emerging infections and biodefense sciences. The goal of this program is to provide multi-disciplinary training combining basic and applied research to produce: (1) doctoral graduates with backgrounds in emerging infectious diseases and biodefense;and (2) postdoctoral fellows who can become independent scientists developing integrated research programs in emerging infections and biodefense. Ten well-funded mentors and five associate mentors are drawn from the Wadsworth Center and the Office of Science of the New York State Department of Health, through their academic appointments within the School of Public Health, University at Albany, SUNY. This unique training environment combines fundamental research with infectious disease outbreak and biodefense response. The training program's key components are based on the existing curriculum of the Departments of Biomedical Sciences and Epidemiology. Didactic components include grounding in biochemistry, cell biology, microbiology, virology, molecular genetics, microbial pathogenesis, immunology, and infectious disease epidemiology with a focus on the biological basis of public health and disease transmission. A set of courses on Emerging Infections and Biodefense Sciences introduces biosafety procedures, BSL3 pathogen containment, pathogen detection, and bioterrorism event and response modeling. Fellows participate in clinically relevant laboratory rotations and colloquia, and journal clubs covering advanced topics and the current literature. An emerging infections research seminar series builds on existing Wadsworth Center and Department of Health seminar programs. The steering and advisory committees, and the existing University at Albany, School of Public Health academic structures, ensure that high-quality applicants enter this specialized program and that both pre- and postdoctoral students become productive scientists in this research area.
The emergence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), potential for a highly pathogenic influenza pandemic, and sobering reality of the 2001 anthrax attacks emphasize the danger to human health posed by infectious organisms, both natural and man-made. This application proposes to train pre- and postdoctoral scientists to combat such threats to the nation's public health.
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